Fish Games -Setting up a Cichlid Aquarium
So you have set up a small aquarium at home or office and are very happy seeing the fish swim around, some have even bred in your tank if you are lucky,the kids are excited and its a happy day.But wait ,this is just the beginning.Theres more to the aquarium hobby than just setting up a small tank.You might know that it is the second most popular hobby next only to photography.And if you want to pursue it as a hobby,is this enough? So this article is not for you if you just want to have a tank just to amuse the kids, this is for a true hobbyist. Be one, its truly rewarding. So lets play some fishy games with the big fishes in the hobby - cichlids.
If you want to be a hobbyist,my advice is that its better to do it in a specific category rather than keeping any fish you see at the store.Here i'll give you some information on how to keep the big fish of the hobby,the bruisers,called as Cichlids. Cichlids may not be for the beginner, not just because they are big fish, but also because they are bruisers.Yes i mean bruisers,but there are so many wonderful things about keeping cichlids.They are among the most intelligent of all freshwater fishes.They make their own home in the aquarium, they fight against intruders, they care for their young ones and they respond to their owners.They are also less demanding in terms of water parameters. Here ill give some details on how to setup a cichlid tank and how to care for them.
Cichlids - How many are there?
No idea. Really. Science has already found more than 1000 different species, most in Africa ,Central and South Americas.Almost three hundred species are available to the hobbyist.They come in all sizes,all colors and a wide range of "personalities".From the calm "Angel" Fish to the mighty Oscars, there is an unimaginable variety to choose from.Here i'll give a list of 6 fishes in ascending order of size and their requirements.
My suggestion is that if have enough money , go for a big enough tank to house two oscars( about 75 gallons).If not, go for the convicts(dont keep more than 1 pair in a tank).
Cichlids are very less demanding in terms of water parameters. They are very hardy fish. Most fish will accept pellet food,but for good growth supplementary food can be given. The larger fishes demand bigger tank sizes. Cichlids eat a lot of food, and grow very fast(oscars can grow more than an inch a month), so the water gets polluted pretty fast ,especially for the bigger species.So adequate filtering is essential. A 50% water change every week can keep your fish very healthy and boost growth.
Its very easy to raise a single fish ,but when there are more, there can be more fun, and there can be problems. If the tank is large enough and there are a lot of hiding spots, the interaction(fights really) between the fish are fun to watch. But if one fish starts to dominate, the other fishes may suffer. There are many community fishes like the angel which can be kept in groups and with other fishes. But to enjoy all the fun that comes with keeping cichlids, try keeping mildly aggressive juveniles in a tank and raise them together. Do a bit of research on the net before selecting your first cichlids.
In most species , the males and females look alike, so to make sure you get atleast a pair, buy 5-6 young fishes and raise them together. When they grow up, they form pairs. This is when the real fun starts. They build a home for themselves in the tank, by moving the sand/substrate. Trespassers will be fiercely fought off. When it is time to breed, the male and female show courtship gestures, which includes locking jaws and testing each others strengths.Eggs will be laid on a clean surface. The pair protects the eggs by all means. The parents will care for the young ones,usually till the next mating. All the actions during this period will be very interesting.
Cichlids are usually on the "expensive" side of the hobby. There are many exotic varieties. But there are also hybrids or man made fishes like parrot cichlids and flowerhorns. Please keep away from such fish. It destroys the very essense of the hobby.
Some photos of my fish...
Some videos from youtube
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